Mike Berry

Portrait of Mike Berry

Mike Berry began photographing in Glyncorrwg in the Afan Valley during Easter 1985. His ubiquitous presence won him the confidence of the initially wary people.

Glyncorrwg was an object lesson in the recent history of South Wales. Geographically the only way out of Glyncorrwg is down the valley to Port Talbot, or over the mountain to Rhondda. As a result of the pit closures, the community of around 1700 people suffered unemployment levels of over 40%. And while during the mid 1980s the town infrastructure was still buoyant with four chapels, a church, a pub, clubs, a rugby team, three shops, a post office and a café there was little money to spend in the community. One small, local furniture factory provided employment for over 40 people, but there was no other large-scale employer. A seemingly dismal situation, but to Mike Berry’s surprise he did not find bitterness and despair. His images take us in and out of the community, from panoramic vistas of the distinctive valleys to close-ups of personalities from the local community. His subjects exude energy and a shared joy that stems from a intense sense of place. Berry’s photographs are tender, evocative images of a struggling, but determined community.


Mike Berry - The Valleys Project, 1985